Peer Pressure and Pure Pressure: Shared Services Summit Perspective

A lot has happened since the first Shared Services Summit was held at Harvard Kennedy School in 2008. Day one of the Summit in 2008 was debate on what shared services really “is and should be.” Day one of the 2012 Summit was leaps and bounds ahead – pretty much everyone has embraced shared services and it’s no longer a “let’s wait and see,” but rather a “let’s get it done.”

Some of this is Pure Pressure as public sector and education leaders have felt the immediate strain of a fiscal crisis and the long-term impact of a global economic, demographic changes and social shifts. And some of this is Peer Pressure as the best run governments are leveraging shared services to provide more value to constituents, and this is moving other governments to follow suit. This pressure presents both challenge and opportunities for leaders embarking on major transformation programs. For a glimpse of how leaders are thinking about transformation, check out Teri Takai, CIO of US DOD and Summit Keynote, relay her thoughts here.

As the Harvard and Accenture teams prepped for this year’s Summit, I was struck by the progress “up the ladder” on shared services as measured by the Shared Services Horizons of Value – the maturity model we use at the Summit and which charts actions through Visioning, Launching, Growing and Sustaining a shared services enterprise. This year 50 percent of the participants were in the Launching stage and 24 percent were in Visioning – almost a complete inversion from last year when 50 percent were Visioning and 13 percent in Launching. The trend lines are all moving towards more adoption of shared services.

Yet when the rubber hits the road, there are significant differences in the approach taken on implementing shared services. The 2012 Summit looked at these “Pathways” and distilled them into the following:

  • Gaining Stakeholder Support
  • Creating and Managing Services Lines
  • Collaborating Across Boundaries
  • Measuring and Managing Performance
  • Financing the Operation and Enterprise

The stories and cases on the Pathways shared during the Summit made this year’s event the most intriguing ever. Organizations and individuals were committed to shared services and know that it is difficult to create this kind of transformation alone – we need PEER support.

Where are you on your shared services journey? Do these Pathways represent your biggest challenge and opportunity areas?

Stay tuned for the Summit report which will explore and discuss the Pathways. In the interim, share your stories in the Community of Practice and exchange ideas with your peers.

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